What is the lowest level attribute that all cancers share? Also, what is the highest level attributes that all cancers share?
Hanahan and Weinberg's "Hallmarks of Cancer" articles should answer your question.
Their original, highly cited (14k+ citations), [Six] Hallmarks of Cancer article list these six common attributes of all cancers:
- Sustaining proliferative signaling
- Evading growth suppressors
- Activating invasion and metastasis
- Enabling replicative immortality
- Inducing angiogenesis
- Resisting cell death
The new article, Hallmarks of Cancer: The Next Generation includes additional "emerging hallmarks" and "enabling characteristics" (Figure 3) common among cancers:
- The capability to modify, or reprogram, cellular metabolism in order to most effectively support neoplastic proliferation; and
- The ability to evade immunological destruction, in particular by T and B lymphocytes, macrophages, and natural killer cells.
Cancer is such a diverse group of diseases that they really only share one commonality, unregulated cell growth with the potential ability to invade or transfer to other tissue types.
Many types of cancer share certain characteristics and can thus be grouped, but as a whole the only characteristic all cancers share is that they are classified as cancer. That classification is based on a number of markers and evaluations used to differentiate between benign and malignant neoplasms. Malignancy is determined by an expert pathologist who uses these markers and evaluations to determine his or her diagnosis based on experience. Some examples of indicators are circumscription, pleomorphism, presence of a capsule, nuclei number and morphology, amount of cytoplasm, number of mitoses, size, depth, particular gene mutations and so on. Even with all of these indicators, it can't be known with certainty beforehand whether or not neoplasms will metastasize.
Could you define your terms a bit more? How do you define levels?
The most common trait shared by cancerous cells is a regulatory malfunction somewhere. Whether it's a failure to regulate apoptosis, failure to recognize boundaries composed of regular cells, or failure to enter states of the cell cycle - a metabolic process somewhere goes awry, which leads to the unwanted proliferation of the cell and its daughter cells.
It was recently discovered that some (but not all) tumors spring from a set of "cancer stem cells" which originally incurred the mutation and serve as the epicenter. They have the capacity to regrow tumors if they are not destroyed or harvested during treatment.
I think the "highest" level trait they all share is that all cancers are unwanted. Other than that, cancers vary so widely that there's practically no universals between them that I'm aware of.
However, I'm not an Oncoligst or a researcher.
All cancers are very different, even when they are the same type of cancer. Breast Cancer, for example, falls into ER+, HER+ and Triple Negative subtypes, all which have different survival outcomes and response to therapeutics. We didn't realise the extent of diversity until we started to analyse the tumours at a higher level of resolution.
That being said, there can be some common pathways that are affected. p53 mutations tend be common in all cancer types, RAS, EGFR are some examples. When we analyze the details at the genomic level(SNP level,Copy Number variants, insertions-deletions), mutations can be very variable, but as you zoom out we see that they target similar genes and furthermore similar pathways.
But recall: people used to die just of fever back in the day, we know now that fever is a symptom not the disease. Technology will allow us to understand whether Cancer is just a catch-all, or whether they are actually different diseases.
There definitely has to be an upstream factor that drives ALL cancers. The fundamental common denominator of all cancers is growth and survival, basic life processes. If you can figure out what ultimately drives these processes, you can figure out what ultimately drives ALL cancer types and subtypes. Cancer is just diversified growth. With an open toolbox to employ. All cancer cells originate because of one point factor, one switch point that alters their developmental trajectory. There are lot of variables it could be.
Mites are one of the biggest major causes of diseases including cancer. It's known that's mites change th1 into th2 effectively compromising the immune response. Scabies (scarcoptes var homis) is NOT the only mite that can infest a human being. In fact there s 250 mites that can. This is an area that needs to be collaborated with veterinary medicine. I think the rise of cancer in the UK over past years will correspond to the increased trend over recent years for designer dogs. There's zero awareness to general public about mites and majority of people do not realise small caged animals or birds require to be treated also. There's plenty case studies and peer approved papers that highlight the diseases alternate mite infestations transmit yet the medical community are not being educated in this area. As a point of interest I find it difficult to understand why the UK government are giving drug addicts and alcoholics an additional £20 per week for the keep of the addicts dog. To my mind it's blantanly obvious these people are not responsible enough to regularly worm or treat for parasites I these animals. Perfect way to spears the disease. Look at studies on stray dogs abroad and wild animals and birds. Whether mites have always been in the environment I believe the assumption they are self limiting is utterly ridiculous and wrong. Mites are a hugely under researched area and there is conflicting references with authors giving the wrong information which they cannot prove. The evidence is there to say alternate mites or pseudo scabies acariasis can host swap can complete their life cycle on the alternate host.